Mystery of missing Chinese X-Men actress deepens
Fan Bingbing is China’s highest paid actress, most famous in the rest of the world for her role as Blink in the X-Men movie franchise.
She is the face of Australian vitamin brand Swisse and was listed by Time magazine as among the top 100 most influential people.
So how can she seemingly disappear without a trace?
Fan has not been seen in public for more than two months and her social media accounts lie silent.
Speculation is rife in China, with the latest suggestion that she has been secretly arrested by Chinese authorities.
Fan, 36, is one of the biggest movie stars in China. Along with her role in X-Men, she starred in the 2016 hit “I Am Not Madame Bovery” and according to The Hollywood Reporter is set to co-star in an upcoming female-ensemble thriller alongside Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain and Lupita Nyong’o.
What sparked the mystery?
In May, former Chinese Central TV anchor, Cui Yongyuan, leaked documents which reportedly revealed that Fan had allegedly been involved in tax evasion. The documents claimed to show evidence of a scheme which saw the actress receive two contracts from production companies, one with the real monetary amount and the other with a much smaller amount to be given to tax authorities.
New York based Epoch Times recently reported that state-run Chinese publication Securities Daily, last week said the actor had been placed “under control, and will accept the legal decision” handed down by authorities.
The publication claimed that Fan’s alleged tax evasion was “only the tip of the iceberg,” further adding: “She is also suspected of participating in illegal lending and other forms of corruption. In the worst case, she faces legal punishment”.
In retaliation to steady growth in the Chinese film industry, its government has increasingly cracked down on top celebrities with the goal of tempering high salaries and lavish lifestyles that supposedly corrupt the countries youth.
According to the Chinese government’s State Administration of Radio and Television, actors should not be paid more than 40 percent of the total film production costs, and lead actors cannot earn over 70 percent of the total pay for the cast.
Fan has now essentially disappeared. Her whereabouts in unknown and her name has been effectively wiped from all Chinese media. Her name has been stripped out of publicity in China for the upcoming film Unbreakable Spirit, in which she co-stars alongside Bruce Willis, due to open next month.
What are Swisse saying?
Australian vitamin brand Swisse has become embroiled in the mystery of Fan’s whereabouts after signing the movie star as a brand ambassador in 2017.
A Swisse spokeswoman said to Fairfax: "We have suspended using her image alongside our brand. As such we are unsure on her involvement in our Singles Day activity. We are continuing to monitor the situation and hope that it is resolved in the near future."
Swisse was taken over by a Chinese company in 2016 and since signing Fan last year the Australian vitamins have seen a surge in sales among young Chinese women.
Fan demonstrated her brand power helping cement Swisse as one of the top-selling imported products during popular Chinese holiday, Singles Day.
Oliver Horn, Swisse Managing Director said last September: "Fan Bingbing is an internationally recognised star who combines intelligence, artistic talent and unique beauty with a positive attitude to life. She champions a healthy living philosophy and will be a wonderful wellness role model for Swisse.”